How to Quarterly Grocery Shop: 10 Helpful Tips to Save Time and Money

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Do you like the idea of spending less time at the grocery store?

Consider quarterly grocery shopping. There are many benefits to it, but it also takes some planning on your part for it to work well.

If you’re unsure of how to coordinate a massive grocery haul, you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to walk you through the few steps it takes to efficiently and effectively coordinate a quarterly grocery trip.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. The “Why” Matters

Like with everything else in life, if you don’t know why you are doing it, you probably won’t. This will be one of those ideas you pin to a Pinterest board and think, “I really need to do this!”

But never actually make it around to doing it.

Speaking of Pinterest, follow me!

For me, the “why” was getting a firm grip on our finances and freeing up time in my schedule. Anything that will save me time and money, I’m on board with…usually.

Why is it worth the effort to coordinate a 3-month grocery trip? Do you need to save money? Do you wish you had more time to do other things?

Figure it out and write it down. That way, when your mind begins to think, “This is just too much!” You can pull out your reminder and push forward.

2. The List

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This is the step that can feel quite overwhelming. When you begin to notice all of the little things you use on a daily basis, it can feel as though you’ll never remember it all.

Take a walk through your house. Open every cabinet and see what it is that you use. Write the items down in an organizer or notebook.

Try a planner like this to keep your list organized.

You will need to consider items such as:

·       Toilet Paper

·       Laundry Detergent

·       Dishwasher Packets

·       Trash Bags

·       Pet Needs

·       Frozen Vegetables

·       Baking Needs

·       Canned Goods

·       Meat

·       Coffee

·       Tea

·       Other Beverages

·       Eggs

·       Paper Towels

·       Dryer Sheets

·       Sweeteners

·       Shampoo

·       Body Wash

·       Deodorant

·       Razors

These are just a few basic items that I know to incorporate on my own list. Your list may have additional items, or you may have fewer.

Be aware, your first trip will be one of your biggest hauls because it is all an estimate. You may buy too much of one item and not need to purchase it for a year (I did this with laundry detergent!)

However, you may buy too little and need to make an adjustment for your next trip. As time goes on, your items will begin to rotate which shrinks your trips.

3. Shop Around

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After you know what you must buy, it’s time to decide where to buy it. I take an hour or so to shop online to see where I can buy the bulk of my items for less money.

Sometimes I shop big box stores, other times I’ll buy more quantities at local grocery stores that offer pick-up, and I depend on Amazon as well.

Once I figure out the easiest (and most cost-effective way) to get my groceries, I place my order. This part takes the most time, but once you find the right place to order from, it’s all downhill from there.

I encourage you to shop online. If you go into the store, you’re more likely to buy items you don’t really need.

4. The Logistics

Some people may have a difficult time quarterly grocery shopping due to lack of storage space. Don’t get me wrong. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

You can store items in a pantry, closets, under beds, in a root cellar, in cabinets, and anywhere else you may have.

If you need a place to store paper products but are short on room in your house, purchase a trash can with a secure lid. Store the paper products in the cans with a secure lid outside.

No one will know what’s in it, and it will keep unwanted visitors out of your paper supply stash.

In my case, I have a large walk-in pantry in my basement where I store many items. We have multiple refrigerators and freezers. I also have a walk-in root cellar in my basement which helps with storage.

My children have a large walk-in closet as well that I’ll store other items that won’t fit in the pantry. However you choose to store your grocery haul, do plan it out in advance.

5. Dairy and Fresh Produce

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You may wonder how you can buy enough dairy and fresh produce to last you three months. In short, you can’t.

But I do have a solution to this problem. I use a lot of heavy whipping cream and butter for my bulletproof coffees.

I also have growing children, so milk is still a necessary item around our home. When I do my quarterly grocery haul, I buy only the dairy products we’ll need for the week. With the exception of butter because you can freeze it.

When it comes to fresh produce, I only buy what I need at the time. If I need these items throughout the following months, I place an online order and go pick-up these items only. This equates to less than $10 per week in our household because we grow much of our food.

You can do this too! If you have room for a large pot or a five-gallon bucket, you can raise your own lettuce, radishes, carrots, or even strawberries.

If you truly have no way (or no desire) to raise your own food, making these small, calculated trips will still help you get what you need and save money in the process.

Also, you can buy produce that holds up for longer periods. For instance, apples can last for a few weeks. If they begin to get soft, turn them into applesauce or use their cores to make your own apple cider vinegar.

You can also store potatoes in a cool, dark location to make them last longer. Cabbage is another item (if wrapped properly) that will store well in your refrigerator. Carrots will last a long time in your refrigerator as well.

Be sure to pick produce with a longer shelf-life when possible.

6. Payment Method

Payment is a big thing when quarterly grocery shopping, and this is why it saves us so much money. First, I don’t charge it. If you charge quarterly groceries without paying it off immediately, it becomes a financial burden instead of offering relief.

Second, I use our 5th paychecks. I don’t normally push my husband to get overtime, but he knows when a 5th paycheck is coming to work as much as he can the week prior because the more money he brings home, the more I have to stock our shelves.

I use 5th paychecks because we have no bills that come out those weeks besides our giving (and we pay our house payment weekly to pay it down faster.) This means an entire check for stocking shelves.

You know your finances better than I do so you’ll have to look at your own financial situation and see if this method will work for you, or if there’s a better way for you to have a lump sum of cash that you can spend on quarterly groceries.

7. The Haul

Picking up your groceries is an event. I take a pick-up truck to pick up our items. It usually fills the entire bed and part of our backseat.

If you have a smaller vehicle, keep this in mind when ordering your groceries. Though one store may have your items cheaper and offer pick-up, you may have to go with a store that has a delivery option instead.

Either way, be sure to schedule your grocery pick-up or delivery on a day that you have some help to get everything home and in its place. It takes a little time to get it all organized but is worth the effort…in my opinion.

8. Proper Meal Planning

Once you have all the groceries at home and in place, you must meal plan. It defeats the whole purpose of having all the ingredients in the house if you don’t know what to do with them.

When quarterly grocery shopping, it’s best to cook what’s familiar. Only when you get to the end of the three months will it require some creativity.

But we’re fortunate to live in the days of Pinterest to help.

Get on a routine of sitting down one time a week and mapping out what your family will eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

I use one night per week to make any items I’ll need ahead of time for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

 As an example, in my house it’s common for my kids to eat oatmeal with cinnamon and brown sugar for breakfast. We have frozen fruit on hand to go with it.

For lunch, the kids eat sandwiches and homemade applesauce or frozen fruit. I have a bread machine which makes homemade bread a breeze and affordable!

I drink a bulletproof coffee for breakfast and will eat leftovers for lunch most days or a salad from my greenhouse.

Dinners usually consist of meat from the freezer, frozen or canned vegetables, and a homegrown salad (because I can grow lettuce year-round in a greenhouse in my planting zone.)

A little extra planning can help you to efficiently eat the food that you buy in a large grocery haul.

9. Cooking and Making Lifestyle Adjustments

The reality of it is, when you quarterly grocery shop you must cook. Your money won’t go as far if you buy a bunch of convenience foods.

This requires lifestyle changes. I personally love it because we’re getting healthier as a family.

However, it’s common to find me making more and more items from scratch. I’ve found that it doesn’t take much extra time to make your own bread (when using a bread machine), making your own salad dressings, or even your own mayonnaise.

Things taste better, it’s frugal, and easy. Be prepared to cook more and DIY a few more things when quarterly grocery shopping because it helps your money to go farther.

10. A Healthy Lifestyle

As I mentioned above, I love quarterly grocery shopping because it has led us down a path of healthier living as a family.

We don’t go to the grocery store all the time which means my kids don’t have the opportunity to pitch snack cakes in the cart on a weekly basis. I buy some of these items on the grocery haul, but they know when they’re gone, they’re gone.

Instead, we spend more time baking together in the kitchen. This is great because it’s easy to substitute items.

Plus, when you bake, you can control the batch size you want to make. I’ve found we’re working out more as a family, and my kids are more involved in helping around our farm.

When you get in the mindset to save money and to utilize the ingredients you purposefully bring in the house per quarter, it can lead to a healthier lifestyle which is an amazing added bonus in our household.

I hope these tips will help you to navigate the quarterly grocery shopping adventure. It can feel like a lot of work, but I’ve enjoyed the fact that I only have to worry about grocery shopping once per quarter instead of once per week.

It’s my hope that this will be a blessing to your family, help you save money, and create some breathing room in your schedule.

Good luck to you and happy grocery shopping!